Quinton de Kock struck a sensational hundred and shared a record opening stand with skipper K L Rahul as Lucknow Super Giants pipped Kolkata Knight Riders by two runs in a last-ball IPL thriller to seal their play-off spot in Navi Mumbai on Wednesday. De Kock gave a batting masterclass en route to an unbeaten 140 off 70 balls as he and Rahul (68 not out off 51) fired LSG to 210 for no loss, the highest opening stand in IPL history. It was a steep chase but KKR stayed in the game through Nitish Rana (42) and captain Shreyas Iyer (50) but it was too big a task for the lower order. Their innings ended at 208 for eight in 20 overs.
Just when it looked KKR were down and out, Sunil Narine (21 not out off) and Rinku Singh (40 off 15) started smashing the LSG bowlers around the ground to reignite hopes of the dugout.
KKR needed 38 runs off the last two overs and they both brought the equation down to 21 off the final over.
Rinku came up with a couple of sixes and a four to make it five off the last three balls but he fell to a special one-handed catch from Evin Lewis to bring LSG back into the game.
With three needed off the final ball, Marcus Stoinis landed a yorker to dismiss Umesh Yadav and help his team win a humdinger.
The loss knocked KKR out of the competition, while LSG, who had lost their last two matches, moved back into the top two with the win.
Earlier, Rahul and de Kock got the measure of the wicket in the powerplay, reaching 44 for no loss, before flaunting their wide range of strokes on way to the third-highest stand in tournament history.
The South African hammered 10 sixes and as many fours in his whirlwind innings, while Rahul collected four sixes and three fours in his 51-ball 68 not out. De Kock, who was dropped by Abhijeet Tomar off Umesh Yadav in the third over, made KKR pay heavily by getting the highest score of the season. His memorable innings were also the third-highest individual score in tournament history.
The South African was in his elements smashing the spinners and pacers with equal disdain.
He used the pull shot against the faster bowlers and was at his innovative best against the seasoned spin duo of Sunil Narine and off-colored Varun Chakaravarthy.
Out of the sixes he hit, de Kock’s reverse sweep off Narine stood out. Anything short from the pacers, de Kock was happy to put it away over the deep square leg region.
De Kock cruised to his hundred in the 18th over with a cut shot off Russell and the innings meant a lot to him, something that was visibly by his down on knees celebration.
The southpaw was in no mood to stop even after reaching three figures. Tim Southee was poor in the death overs as he fed balls after balls in the slot for de Kock to deposit it into the stands.
His 19th over yielded as many as 27 runs with de Kock finding the boundary at will. Rahul watched de Kock’s breathtaking knock from the best seat in the house. The skipper did not have much to do in the slog overs but he too played some sublime strokes on way to his third half-century of the season.
Rahul also completed 500 runs in the tournament for the fifth season in a row. PTI KKR bowlers leaked 88 runs in the last five overs with Southee and Russell proving to be the most expensive bowlers.